50KM Freedom Swim for Gold Star Teen Adventures
50KM Freedom Swim for Gold Star Teen Adventures is a 50 km (31.68 mile) charity swim by 8 American open water swimmers in Islamorada, Florida. The charity swim relay will start on 10 November and end 11 November 2013 with the goal of swimming at least 50 km and each swimmer swimming a minimum of 4 miles off of the Florida Keys.
Gold Star Teen Adventures provides adventure camps to the surviving youth of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The vision is to enable healing, foster enduring relationships, and develop character and leadership skills.
50KM Freedom Swim Members
- Kent Solheim
- Pete Colbert
- Billy Costello
- Celia Wolff
- Paul MacNamara
- Greg Cello
- John Leitner
- Patrick Powers
- Jessica McCloskey
Kent Solheim has served in the United States Army for more than 18 years and has deployed six times in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. He was wounded in July 2007 in Iraq when he sustained three gunshot wounds to his legs and one gunshot wound to his left shoulder. He lost his right leg as a result of his injuries and is committed to providing opportunities for the children of Fallen American Service Members. He looks forward to honoring those that paid the ultimate price and their children through this event.
Solheim has been both a competitive cyclist and runner. He began competitive road cycling when he was 16 years old, winning a Regional Cycling Championship, placing 5th in the Ontario Provincial Road Racing Championships and competing in the 1992 Cycling Olympic Trials. After joining the Army, he ran for the Fort Hood/III Corps 10-mile running team and competed in a number of distance races ranging from 5 km to a full marathon. He also began competing in triathlons and adventure racing including sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, winning a Regional XTERRA Paratriathlete title, placing second in the 2011 New York City Paratriathlete open division category and qualifying for the Paratriathlete World Championships.
Pete Colbert has served in the United States Army for over two years with assignments in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He is a native of Huntersville, North Carolina and has been swimming competitively for over 19 years. He has competed at all levels of competition from summer league to USA Swimming National Championships and was a four-year varsity swimmer for the United States Military Academy at West Point prior to joining the Army. He is honored to partake in an opportunity to give back to the families of service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Billy Costello enlisted in the Army in November 2002. Costello deployed in support of Village Stability Operations for remote districts of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. In 2011 he was injured after stepping on an anti-personnel Improvised Explosive Device during a dismounted reconnaissance patrol. The blast traumatically amputated his right leg through the knee. Since recovering from his injuries, Costello has returned to his Unit to further serve in an active duty capacity while going through the medical retirement process. Since his injury he has sought out many opportunities to excel and return to the high activity level he knew prior to losing his leg. He grew up snowboarding various mountains along the east coast, so when the opportunity came to snowboard the mountains of Montana 4 months after his injury, he couldn’t pass it up. From there he returned to SCUBA diving, surfing, running, cycling, and eventually mountain climbing. He has had the pleasure of cycling with the former Commander in Chief George W. Bush in the 2013 Bush 100K.
Costello has also been active with the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge completing challenges in austere environments while collecting scientific data for the improvement of prosthetic devices and socket systems. The research expeditions that he has participated in include the SCUBA Challenge, 2012 with the SCUBAnauts and SFUWO in Key West, Florida; Kilimanjaro Mountaineering Challenge, 2013, “The Impact of High Altitude Mountaineering on Lower Limb Amputees, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury Patients”; Grand Canyon Challenge, 2013; and SCUBA Challenge, 2013 with the SCUBAnauts and Special Forces Underwater Operations School.
Greg Cello has served in the United States Army for more than two years and has deployed once in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. He has been a competitive swimmer for the past 14 years. He swam varsity in high school all four years, going to the State Competition three of those year, while also swimming for a New York State team, that competed nationally. He further pursued swimming at Providence College apart the Big East Division One Conference. Throughout his lifetime of swimming, he has participated in multiple open water swims.
Cello has ran in races ranging from 5k to a marathon. While in college, he competed in the Army 10-Miler as a member of the Providence College team.
Celia Wolff is a mother of four children, a competitive masters swimmer, coach and a military spouse. Her 25 years of volunteering within the military community during her husband’s many assignments has allowed her to touch many of our Army families. Taking care of our families and soldiers is a top priority for Celia. Her energy has been focused on Family Readiness and support through her Army Family Team Building instruction, Family Advocacy program support, unit Family Readiness Group leadership positions and continued efforts with the Army Family Advocacy Program as both a delegate and as support staff. She also served as a member of the Military Officer Association of America Currently Service Spouse Advisory Council.
Wolf is the Head Coach of the Ft. Bragg Masters Swim Team. She has coached the Ft. Bragg Fighting Fish and several high school and club teams at the Wolff family’s ten different duty stations. She has an extensive competitive swimming background. She began competing when she was nine and continued through college where she swam for Western Illinois University and Purdue University. She took a 23 year break from the pool but came back and joined Masters swimming in 2011. She now holds three NC Masters State relay records and one U.S. Masters Swimming National record. She continues to train and compete at the national and international level and is ranked on the US Masters’ Top ten list and is also a Masters’ All-American.
Paul MacNamara is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Army. He spent four years in the Infantry with the 101st Airborne Division and the remaining 16 years with Special Forces. Following in his father’s footsteps, he became a second generation Special Forces Officer. His operational time was spent in the forward deployed Battalions of 1st Group in Okinawa, Japan and 10th Group in Stuttgart, Germany. He also served as the Commander of the US Army Parachute Team, “The Golden Knights,” before retiring in 2004. Paul is the CEO of Strategic Investment Partners, a Registered Investment Advisory firm, providing wealth management services to individuals, businesses and institutional investors.
MacNamara has a connection with the goals and objectives of the Gold Star Teen Adventures as he himself lost his father (Major Edwin J. MacNamara) in Vietnam in 1966. This tragic loss left his mother, Ann, to tend to five children ranging in ages from one to seven. He is an active swimmer and enjoys the low impact exercise offered by the water. He swims in open water events such as the Pier to Pier 2 mile swim at Wrightsville Beach, the Steelman 1.5 mile, as well as the 1 mile Chesapeake Bay Challenge. He often swim alongside his niece and enjoys the strong bond they share through the adventure and challenges of open water swims.
Gold Star Teen Adventures has applied for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Until status is received, Gold Star Teen Adventures receives tax-deductible donations through our fiscal sponsor, the Dakotana Fund. The Dakotana Fund does not deduct any of your donation for overhead costs.
John Leitner has served in the United States Army for 10 years and has deployed four times in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. During this time, John has seen firsthand the price that is paid by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that he has had the honor to serve alongside. He has also witnessed the enormous challenges that face military families as well and feels truly honored to have this opportunity to assist the families of service members who have sacrificed so much. He began competing in Olympic style weightlifting at the age of 10 and continued into college. Throughout the course of his time as a competitive weightlifter, he won several Texas state championships and a national championship. He played football, baseball, and soccer in high school and continued with intramurals and rugby while attending the University of Houston.
Leitner’s first competitive race was a marathon and since then he has run many races ranging from 5 km to 26.2 miles – most with his wife and one with his daughters. He has begun to train for a triathlon and several adventure races.
Patrick Powers is a Green Beret with over 20 years of service in the US Army. He joined the Army after swimming competitively in both high school and college. He served tours in Asia, Europe, Southwest Asia, and the Middle East. He commanded troops during two combat tours in in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. After returning from Operation ENDURING FREEDOM last year he decided to compete in the Navy SEAL Foundation charity swim completing a three mile open water swim across Tampa Bay. He is currently competing in triathlons and is a supporter of the Special Operations Forces Warrior Foundation.
Jessica McCloskey is a Special Operations Gold Star Spouse. Her husband Shawn was on a 7th Special Forces Team when he was killed in action on 15 September 2009. She has two young children and is currently working toward finishing her Master of Health Science degree with a minor in Biochemistry. Even though she is not the strongest or the fastest swimmer she has volunteered to swim in the 50k Freedom Swim to support the Gold Star Teen Adventures for her children and many others. She wants to make sure she is doing all she can to ensure programs like Gold Star Teen Adventures will be around when her children are old enough. She has been witness to the value of this program through the Trident Dive Club, and has seen the long term positive outcome from the Gold Star teens.